Marketing Pros Say Sensitivities and Strict Laws Keeping Some from Advertising to Cannabis Tourists – LPC
Canadian tourism agencies are not advertising to cannabis tourists as much as some might expect. When Canada legalized cannabis in 2018, it became just the second country to do so. (And Uruguay, the first, doesn’t allow sales to non-residents.) You’d think people would be flocking to Canada – but they’re not.
Part of the reason is that strict marketing laws prevent them from doing so. Health Canada has said that you cannot market cannabis in such a way that it promotes a product in a lifestyle way, such as recreation. The equivalent might be beer commercials, which often connects lifestyle with their brands – at the game, at the cottage, at the beach. Although that law seems to be for individual products, tourism agencies are likely reluctant to test it. Marketing a farm tour to cannabis tourists might sound the same as a wine tour, but it still could be against the law.
Health Canada marketing laws also prevent tourism agencies from promoting cannabis outside of Canada. They can promote wine tours of BC or Niagara, but they can’t attract cannabis tourists to those same regions.
Then there are the people who live in those areas as well. Although cannabis is legal, some residents may have moral issues with promoting their area to cannabis tourists.
“Is this something that you want to promote or advertise? Are people going to visit Windsor-Essex because of it?” said Gordon Orr, executive director of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island.
No Easy Solutions – LPC
Despite restrictions, there are some who are trying to promote themselves to cannabis tourists. Smith Falls, home of Canopy Growth, hopes cannabis tourism will replace the 250,000 tourists it lost when the chocolate factory closed down. Similarly, Montreal-based PotRentals promotes to cannabis tourists.
Related to tourism are cannabis mixers aimed at the after-business market, turning martini hour into cannabis hour.
Marketing to cannabis tourists is a fine line. David Coletto, the CEO of Ottawa-based Abacus Data, suggests tourism companies should act quickly, but cautiously. “There’s a real opportunity for tourism,” Coletto said. “When you go to Dublin, you go to the Guinness Brewery. Why not go to a cannabis company when you come to this region?
“Canada has a unique opportunity to invite the world to see how cannabis is made.”
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